H.O.P.E. ~ hands-on outdoor place-based education ~ integrates the environment into existing curricula and is a pedagogy for stewardship. A venue for this pedagogy is the outdoor classroom.
An outdoor classroom is a natural or designed landscape directly outside the school building that serves as a context for teaching formal standards-based and informal education in all the disciplines. It can be a woodland, meadow, an edible garden, rain garden, pollinator garden, trail or flower pots.
Outdoor classrooms do not change the curriculum, but offer educators the opportunity to weave nature into their existing curriculum and connect their students with the local landscape and diverse ecological community.
Hands-on Outdoor Place-based Education.
H.O.P.E. engages head, heart and hands in reflective inquiry in nature, while cultivating critical thinking skills.
H.O.P.E. is a culturally relevant pedagogy that builds on experience.
H.O.P.E is using the environment as a foundational context for education. When educators weave nature into the curriculum, students gain the opportunity to develop an understanding of and respect for the global ecological community.
H.O.P.E. offers a platform for service learning, develops leadership skills and provides opportunities for discovering solutions to local and global challenges to biodiversity and affiliated social justice issues.
Chief Seattle's Thoughts
How can you buy or sell the sky, the warmth of the land? The idea is strange to us….
So, we will consider your offer to buy our land. But it will not be easy. For this land is sacred to us. This shining water that moves in the streams and rivers is not just water but the blood of our ancestors. If we sell you the land, you must remember that it is sacred, and you must teach your children that it is sacred and that each ghostly reflection in the clear water of the lakes tells of events and memories in the life of my people. The water's murmur is the voice of my father's father….
You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. Teach your children that we have taught our children that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves….
This we know; the earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. All things are connected. Chief Seattle 1854
“From the freedom to explore comes the joy of learning. From knowledge acquired by personal initiative arises the desire for more knowledge. And from mastery of the novel and beautiful world awaiting every child comes self-confidence.”
— E.O. Wilson
“An environment-based education movement–at all levels of education–will help students realize that school isn’t supposed to be a polite form of incarceration, but a portal to the wider world.”
― Richard Louv, Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
“First, all education is environmental education. By what is included or excluded, students are taught that they are part of or apart from the natural world.”
“No institutions in modern society are better equipped to catalyze the necessary transition to a sustainable world than colleges and universities. They have access to the leaders of tomorrow and the leaders of today. What they do matters to the wider public.”
— David Orr
People Protect what they love.
They love what they value.
They value what they understand.
Understanding is a function of relationship.
Relationship is rooted in experience.
HOPE provides youth the opportunity to explore and experience their role as citizens of diverse local ecological communities so they may know, understand, love and serve as stewards of all earth communities.
H.O.P.E. for ecological literacy is a pedagogy that cultivates the desire and skills for effective stewardship, demonstrates how the Laws of Thermodynamics interface with our choices and creates opportunity for every child to embrace the Law of Unity first-hand.
Through active participation in environment-based education, reflective inquiry and experience in cooperative problem solving, H.O.P.E. empowers youth with the knowledge that they can make a difference in the world and prepares them with the tools to exercise that knowledge.
H.O.P.E. is a process of discovery through which students embrace a lifetime of creative investigation and an existence based on respect for life upon the planet.
“For decades, Gerald Lieberman has been at the forefront of environment-based learning. The concept, which has acquired several names over the years, is essentially this: children and young people learn best when their time in the classroom is augmented by experiences in the wider community…
Gerald Lieberman’s ongoing work underscores the right of a whole child to feel and be fully alive.”
— Richard Louv, author of Last Child in the Woods: Saving our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
by Lieberman and Hoody
Research quantifies the impacts of outdoor classrooms on academic achievement.
Studying children in 40 schools in 12 states, research confirmed academic performance improved across the curriculum, critical thinking skills improved, students became aware of diverse viewpoints, discipline problems diminished and problem-solving proficiency improved through enhanced application of systems thinking.
Beyond academic achievement, students' understanding of the world became more comprehensive, they formed connections between personal and planetary health and became more aware of ecological concepts through hands-on learning.
Ancillary and more subjective impacts of outdoor classrooms were increased enthusiasm for learning and teaching, improved health from edible gardens, increased attendance and improved school relationships.
Outdoor classrooms enhance academic performance and ecological literacy and are being implemented in schools throughout the US and abroad.
In the US, the Green Schools National Network www.gsnn.org, the Children and Nature Network www.C&NN.org Green Schoolyards America www.greenschoolsamerica.org are among the sponsors of this innovative approach to learning and living on a finite planet.
“When one asks why no rules have been written, one is told that the community is not yet ready to support them; education must precede rules. But the education actually in progress makes no mention of obligations to land over and above those dictated by self-interest." Aldo Leopold
Initiated by The Land Trust of Bucks County. The Outdoor Classroom Project at the Bucks County Intermediate Unit School #22 at the Samuel Everitt School in Levittown, PA, will serve students in KG though age 21.
The Lewis Elementary School has established an outdoor classroom project and protocol as a prototype and seed project for the Cleveland School District.
Imagine NYC School project began at the outset of Covid. Project scope is 40 NYC schools, 20 reimagined and 20 new, all implementing outdoor classrooms. On hold due to covid.
Professor: Education for Sustainability; Methods and Projects, West Chester University, Department of Education
Developing and Using Green Schoolyards; Instructional Tools for the Whole Curriculum
Integrating the Environment into the K-12 Classroom
Course Description: Students will investigate designs, implementation and multi- curricular applications of outdoor classrooms/green schoolyards. This course is applicable for all education majors including administrative candidates. The course format will include exploration of green schoolyard applications, development and partnerships, outdoor habitat investigation, mapping and presentation of a Green Schoolyard plan developed during the course. Students will gain skills and templates for green schoolyard design, development and implementation.
Design of sensory gardens for children with disabilities and production of an activity guide for volunteers and parents to use in the gardens. It is the hope that parents will be interested and will take some design elements to their yards to continue the nature experience for their children.
Teacher workshops on outdoor classroom concepts and practice; design, development, and use.